Well we eventually returned home on Monday evening after an eventful journey. Now those who know Terry Brown will agree that he is laid back in most circumstances. When Terry starts to show some anxiety all my intentions to stay cool go by the wayside. After sitting in the VIP lounge (yes you read correctly) for some time after our flight was due to board we went in search of it outside on the apron, only to be told that it was the aircraft just taxiing for take-off. After recovering from that shock we returned to the standard lounge to be informed that it had not been our aircraft at all! What chaos!!!! We arrived in Addis and eventually and (after much frustration and shouting at the Ethiopian Airlines ground manager – another long story) we managed to get to a transit hotel. Apparently because our flight was late again the driver got fed up and gone home. The rest of the onward journey to London and then Manchester was uneventful in comparison.
In my thank you email to our members in South Sudan I had to apologise if, at times during the week I wasn’t my normal self. After suffering with a stomach problem I felt nauseous all the time. The good news is that I lost 6lbs in weight! However, I’m pleased to report that I was able to eat my normal “return from abroad” meal – egg and chips prepared of course by my lovely Chief Wife.
Thank you so much to all our members in Juba for their hospitality and friendship during the week. I was so pleased to meet some old (well young) friends who I’ve known for many years as a result of my visits to Khartoum. It gave me much pleasure to see the incredible progress made by some of the “boys” we have looked after, trained and encouraged. Many now hold senior positions in the South Sudan civil service and private sector. This provides evidence that what we are delivering through these programmes is working and is having an impact on the lives of many; what I find incredible is the story of Ding who was one of the boys at our farm in Buri, Khartoum and is now repaying our Society by providing the same opportunity for other boys by renting a house and looking after 14 boys at his own expense!
I can’t let this opportunity go by without repeating my grateful thanks to Mama Lucy our highly respected President of Juba SVP Central Council who quietly and without thought for herself carries on the work of helping the poor on a one to one basis in a way that we all respect. What she does is at the core of Vincentian work and I’m pleased to see that this is growing from strength to strength in South Sudan as recognised by the Archbishop.
Time to reflect on the last 10 days. Tomorrow I’ll write my final blog in this series with my thoughts and conclusions.